A Whole New Perspective! (LONG)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Christy, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. Christy

    Christy New Member

    So difficult child's been back to school for two weeks now and it's not going well there. Work refusal, throwing things, arguing with peers, attempting to leave the area, ....

    At home, things have never been calmer. No arguments about coming to dinner, going to bed, he's pleasant, we have been enjoying an hour of wii together each evening, he's doing his reading, his math....

    Why is he having such problems in school? He's always had problems in school. He is completely overstimulated in social situations. Around his peers, his maturity level takes a nose dive. His personal space issues cause problems for others. His oppositional nature has him engaged in a constant power struggle with authority. His lack of focus is made worse by the over-stimulating enviromnment.

    I used to drive myself crazy trying to fix the school situation by offering incentives and consequences for his behaviors at school. We would discuss, until I was blue in the face, the incidents that occured that day in school. I would ask him why? We would brain-storm ways to solve the problem. Did it help? NO.

    We would offer big rewards for a green behavior card. He never earned them. I would even send him to school with green dots on his wrist as a way to remind him to stay on green for the day and make good choices. Again, did it help? NO.

    I would email the teacher daily to get all the gory details of his day spent in support, why there was a need for restraint, what destruction he had caused. All this served to do is to reinforce the idea that the school, ultimately held me responsible for difficult child's behaviors and expected me to fix them. "When is his next doctor's appointment? " they would ask as if the doctor had some magic behavior pill that we had not yet tried.

    If difficult child had a bad day at school. It was a bad day at home for everyone. My need to scold, lecture, rethink, consequence, etc... only served to make difficult child angry at me and me angry at difficult child. He was always without his priveledges and did it help his next day at school? NO!

    So listening to the good advice of others who have wisely said, things like, "Let the school deal with what happens in school." I have decided that I will only address the positive things I notice on difficult child's behavior chart with difficult child. He is in a special self-contained school for students wilth behavioral/emotional needs and they are equipped to deal with these behaviors. I do everything I can to help support them by taking difficult child to a psychiatrist, a therapist, he has an in-home behavioral specialist working with him, I have had outside evaluations done,he's gone to scoial skills classes, etc..

    I haven't given up my warrior mom status ( I stopped getting on difficult child about his school behavior but I still make my thoughts known to the school as to what I think would be helpful for difficult child). He obviously does not have the support he needs to be successful. He needs constant coaching. We have had two ieps meetings, one in the summer and one last week to discuss (nice word for argue) the need for 1:1 assistance. I think difficult child needs it for safety(he's a runner), behavioral, and academic support. I have an appeal scheduled next week and we've hired an advocate. I have been very careful not to discuss this situation around difficult child.

    So what is the point of this long, rambling post? I want to share with others, who may be pulling their hair out over school behaviors, that life is so much better when you learn to leave school problems at school!

    Has this helped his behaviors in school? NO. Has this helped his behaviors at home? YES!

  2. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    Good for you! It does make for a happier home, it's so true.

    I gave up dealing with school problems at home a long time ago. They don't punish him at school for something he did at home, so why should it be the other way around?
  3. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    Well, good for you. I say, if all that you were doing at home wasn't making an iota of difference in his school behavior and only making home a battle ground, your new perspective is a good one. Enjoy every moment you can with your kid.

    For me, it's the opposite. Mostly good at school and unleashing the beast at home.

    Though I did take a stand when Son started middle school last year. They were going to deny him an elective because of his state test scores. Because he visual processing problems, he has very low reading comprehension. He's had YEARS of remedial intervention and it has made no difference. They can't intervention him out of it. Believe me, I wish they could. But, all of the school strategies were making him HATE reading period. I was done battling with him over it.

    I saw his schedule last year and freaked. All core academics. No way, I told everyone at his SST. So, I had it written in his 504 that he was to get his elective.

    So, what elective did he pick this year??

    Office Aide. :surprise:

    He loves it! It gets him outside running errands for the various office personnel and then he has PE right afterwards and it's is last class. A great way to end the day for him because of all the physical activity.

    Keep fighting for the 1:1. Daughter had one when she was in preschool and they tried to take it away without telling me. Kinda like "Oh, maybe she won't notice" type thing. I noticed and unleased MY beast on them! (Their excuse? "We have another student that needs it more")The 1:1 was back the next day when I pointed it out in her IEP and sent the message that I wasn't just another clueless parent that will cower in the presense of the SD.
  4. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I really do agree-except when difficult child has an out of school suspension-then we consequence at home for the day he is suspended-it we act like it's a school day-he does all school stuff and some home chores. I'm glad you are seeing a difference!
  5. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Wow, good perspective. So glad it is working for you. It must be helpful to have him in a contained school that deals extensivley with behavioral issues. I think I would "worry" less too if this were our case.

    It was good to read this tonight. My daughter is already having all kinds of problems at school and she is only 6. She goes to a mainstream school though and I don't think they can handle her...not when the teacher calls me crying (I have a post about this). So, for me leaving school issues at school is not an option right now. They totally are not equipped at this particular moment to handle her needs. So, I am warrior mom marching on....
  6. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Good point Linda! Thanks :)

    Dazed, you are right to be on top of things. It is amazing how schools tend to make changes without drawing attention to themselves. Office aide as an elective-that's a hoot! Glad difficult child enjoys it.

    Makes good sense, Wiped Out, I often wonder who they are punishing when they give a child out-of-school suspension?

    Laurensmyprincess, I know how you feel! It sounds like the school is not providing enough support for your daughter. Believe my, I am still constantly worried about school and "fighting" to get my son the help he needs, BUT I have come to realize that nothing I do at home will impact his behavior once he gets on the bus. I have stopped trying to consequence his school behaviors at home. Be careful not to feel too responsible for your daughter's behaviors at school. I am sure you are doing everything you can to help her. I am going to go read your post about the crying teacher but I think that she should not have called you while she was so upset. Kinda unprofessional, in my humble opinion. Good luck getting the help you need for your daughter. The special program is good and bad. It is good because they do handle behaviors very well there. It's bad because while they claim to provide the same level of teaching, but it doesn't happen. I know, I was a teacher for the same county and I know my son is not exposed to or held to the same curriculumn. Also, there is no positive peer role models. Everyone has issues. I am fighting for a 1:1 for many reasons one of which is the chance for difficult child to mainstream for small parts of his day. Just some things to think about should you be faced with this decision down the road.

    Thanks everyone for posting!
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Christy, I'm sorry he's still having trouble at school but I'm glad you've been able to lift things at home.

    Sharon/WO, you said, "...when difficult child has an out of school suspension-then we consequence at home for the day he is suspended-it we act like it's a school day-he does all school stuff and some home chores."
    For us, that wasn't a consequence. We brought in the rule, "School work during school hours" because difficult child 3 was often "sick" and I never knew if it was real or not. He wasn't faking, but he also wasn't sick with a bug, either. It's just that his anxiety was so extreme.
    When I look back and think - how bad the poor kid must have been feeling, for his anxiety to be so extreme that not only was he feeling nauseous at just the MENTION of school in the holidays, but he would throw up several times a day at school and he was also running low-grade fevers from the anxiety.

    So even though difficult child 3 wasn't faking, and sometimes he DID have a bug of sorts, I couldn't take the chance of a Pavlovian reaction to being home and also permitted to just lie around. Autistic kids can learn fast and get into patterns of behaviour really fast - sometimes from one occurrence - so I had to lay down the rules and stick to them. The result is, he's a really good independent worker at home now.
    But when he was home and feeling sick, or if he was suspended, or even if he wasn't suspended but his teacher had said he should stay home for a few days because of big, challenging changes at school for a few days - then difficult child 3 had to work. The first thing would be to complete any homework and assessments. Next would be any worksheets I'd begged from his teacher (including schoolwork not completed) and after that would be whatever work I could put together for him myself, including educational computer games. If he was running a high fever and really feeling sick (even with tonsillitis) then he could go to bed and sleep. But if he was feeling well enough to be out of bed, then it was school. There were times when he really was sick with a high fever and tonsillitis, and he still got schoolwork done - the rule couldn't be modified even when I knew he was really physically ill.

    It wasn't punishment - if I'd made it punishment then he would have associated schoolwork with punishment. It was simply - his job. Like my job as Mum was to look after him, get him some lunch, keep the household running, etc.

    Christy, you listed a number of things that your son was never able to do, despite strong motivation and good reminders. That tells me that he simply was incapable of giving you what you wanted. He was highly motivated, he did know, he just wasn't able to do it. To discipline for something a person just cannot do, is to not only set up for failure but it also lowers self-esteem and they feel increasingly like failures. It also can lead to them giving up - why try, if I can never succeed?

    Christy, he's doing much better at home - would he continue to do so if you gave him, say, a month of home schooling? If you took the same approach you currently have at home? It would be putting him in an environment where he is not so overstimulated, plus he would be able to have some control over which worksheet he did and how long he spent on it before changing to something else. I've found this made a very big difference to difficult child 3 - he still does this.
    Example: difficult child 3 was working on his History assessment task on Thursday and went over and over the notes, read through the scaffold guidelines several times, looked at the question repeatedly - for several hours. Normally he will stick at one subject until he's made more progress than that. But by lunchtime he had got nowhere and I was worrying about him. Of course, he won't let me help, because in his mind, that is cheating. But the next thing I saw was difficult child 3 putting his History away and getting out his Maths. For difficult child 3, Maths is easy and calms him down. His History task had been making him increasingly anxious so he organised himself to do SOMETHING productive and to also choose something that would help him get back into his work effectively. I thought it was a very mature choice for him, to recognise that he had reached a brick wall and needed to stop beating his head against it.

    A woman I was talking to about her son (classmate of difficult child 3 at the correspondence school) told me what a problem her son had been, so argumentative with his teachers (mainstream) and getting into fights constantly. I've seen this kid - prickly, extremely. But closer observation has told me that he's prickly because he's got poor social skills (doesn't read other kids well) plus once he got a reputation for being in trouble, other kids would deliberately try to push his buttons (it was fun to watch the explosions) and over time, this only made him worse. Since switching to correspondence, his mother has seen a huge difference in him. I've also seen a lot of that change in him as well, since he did spend some time in a day school for kids with behaviour problems (these schools also use the correspondence curriculum material). His mother finally pulled him out of there to supervise him at home, and found it has improved him further.

    Laurensmyprincess, while your daughter's teacher shouldn't have been so unprofessional as to ring you in tears, I've seen the effect my kids have on teachers and I know they're only human. Both my boys had teachers reduced to quivering wrecks at times, and I did relax a fair bit on my expectations of teacher behaviour (at least when talking to me). A teacher who is not coping with a difficult child will sometimes stop trying to push the child as much as is needed. That certainly happened with both my boys - they just stopped learning. Or in difficult child 3's case, never started. At least, not in school.

    As a result, they often don't do as well in mainstream.

    No positive peer role model in school - that flies in the face of beliefs that "kids need to be in school because they need the social interaction." I was fobbed off with that one for years and I'm very angry with myself. The truth is - where the child is miserable, is often excluded, is not learning (or due to frequent suspensions etc is not getting access to learning) then school is perhaps NOT the right place.

    I've found that difficult child 3 can learn, at home, as much in a day as he could in a month in mainstream. Probably more. Because the work he completes at home sticks in his mind, whereas what he completed in mainstream would be forgotten. And when ALL the schoolwork gets done at home in less time than it used to take to complete 10% of the schoolwork at school, then there is no need for homework (it's ALL homework) and for social interaction, difficult child 3 is free to go play with neighbours when they are getting home from school. Before, he would get home form school and have to then sit down and complete homework as well as any incomplete class work. difficult child 1 especially - same story. He was getting NOTHING done at school, so that at home he would be working every night until 10 pm. Once I pulled him out of mainstream into correspondence, difficult child 1 worked well at home all the school day until an hour after the school day finished, at which point his friends were getting home on the school bus and would get off early to knock on our door and invite difficult child 1 over for a game. And because he had gotten so much work done - he could go play with a clear conscience!

    The outcome - he was more relaxed, happier, more self-esteem - and NOW he was getting much more social interaction (positive social interaction at that) than he had been getting as a mainstream student. He also was getting social contact in smaller numbers, more controllable and less confrontational. He could walk away from bullies and come home, instead of having to stay at school with the bullies not leaving him alone.

    Same findings with difficult child 3 - as a student at home, he is free to play at the end of the school day. He comes shopping with me and interacts with the people in the shops (and thereby learns valuable social skills).

    Someone emailed a link to me a few days ago, about a correspondence school in the US, if anyone is interested.

    Not that it's for everyone - some kids do fine in mainstream, better than they could if they were at home. But we need to know that there are alternatives and that some of the stories we hear about them to discourage us - are myths.

  8. Christy

    Christy New Member


    Thanks for the insight. You raise some good points.

    Actually, I homeschooled all of last year for this reason. You're right, we could accomplish more in a few hours then he gets done in a school day. Academically it was great but his behaviors made socializing with other homeschool families impossible, and the same went for extracurriculular activities. To make it worse, he's an only child :( Also, he qualifies for speech and Occupational Therapist (OT) and the school provides this. If I am unsucessful in getting an aide, we will probably be homeschooling again soon.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We made the choice to focus on academics, becuase he had lost so much ground there, and to hope tat we could slide trough (or pick up later) on the social things. But it turned out that what social contact we DID have, was in smaller amounts and therefore manageable for him; plus, we were always able to end on a positive note (and I had him thoroughly supervised!) so over time his anxiety in social situations eased and his behaviour improved. He has a long way to go but I think he's further along now than he would have been if we'd tried to stay in mainstream.

    Mind you, his best mate who is also autistic, is still in mainstream. His Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) isn't so severe and his social skills are not so bad as difficult child 3's were.

    It's different for different kids; but from what I've seen, if mainstream isn't working and you CAN homeschool, generally the child is better off for it. We have a friend who has insisted on keeping her son in his mainstream placement and it's turning into a real disaster for her; he would be so much better off either at home or in a special unit, but she wants to prove a point (which I think is silly). And because we don't agree, she won't talk to me, I haven't heard from her in two years (although I've heard ABOUT him, from teachers and other students). Very sad.

  10. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Sorry Marg about your friend. That is sad that someone is willing to give up a friendship over a difference of opinion!

    We haven't ruled out going back to homeschooling, believe me! I won't have my son stuck in a placement where he isn't making progress so that I can get fight with the school. But I am hoping that with the right plan, we can have the best of both worlds. I would like to homeschool half days but the school will not allow it.